A new report offers the clearest timeline yet of a mass shooting at a school in Uvalde, Texas, in May that left 19 people dead and two teachers, and it addresses the many failures of security forces. order that contributed to the high number of casualties.
The report, released Wednesday by the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) program, based at Texas State University, describes a police response that was botched by poor tactical planning and by officers putting their security at risk. above those who were executed. in their classrooms at Robb Elementary School on May 24. Here are some of the main takeaways:
A missed opportunity
Minutes before 18-year-old killer Salvador Ramos entered Robb Elementary after crashing his vehicle nearby, an officer from the Uvalde Police Department spotted Ramos and was ready to engage him with his own AR-gun. 15. But instead of shooting Ramos, the officer first asked his supervisor for permission, according to the report.
“However, the supervisor did not hear or responded too late,” the report said. “The officer turned to get confirmation from his supervisor and when he turned to address the suspect, [the suspect] had entered the western corridor relentlessly.
As the report notes, Uvalde’s officer would have been within his legal right to use deadly force without the authorization of his supervisor. However, the unnamed officer said he feared hitting the school and potentially injuring students.
“Ultimately, the decision to use lethal force always rests with the officer who will use the force,” the report said. “If the officer was not confident that he could both hit his target and from his background if he missed, he should not have fired.”
The report also mentions another officer who walked past Ramos in the school parking lot before Ramos entered the building. The report concludes that the officer was driving “at high speed” and did not spot the shooter.
“Had the officer driven more slowly or parked his car at the edge of school property and approached on foot, he may have seen the suspect and been able to engage him before the suspect enters the building,” the report said.
Loss of momentum
By 11:36 a.m., seven officers who had entered the building “properly headed for the active gunfire” coming from Ramos and had converged on rooms 111 and 112, where Ramos was shooting at children and teachers.
“As officers approached the gates, the suspect began shooting,” the report said. “These shots caused both teams of officers to withdraw from the gates.”
The report from ALERRT, an active shooter response training program for law enforcement, concludes that officers should not have retreated and that their priority should have been to catch the killer even s they feared for their lives.
“We commend the officers for entering the building quickly and heading for the sounds of gunfire,” the report said. “However, when the officers were fired upon, the momentum was lost. The officers backed up and it took over an hour to regain momentum and gain access to the seriously injured people.
A tactical failure
In more than an hour after the first police officers withdrew from Ramos, a barrage of equipment was collected for the officers as Ramos continued to shoot children and adults in classrooms.
The timeline of the report shows that at 11:52 a.m. a ballistic shield was handed over to officers. Then another ballistic shield arrived at 12:03 p.m. At 12:10 p.m., West Corridor officers began distributing and donning gas masks. Four minutes later, “CS gas canisters and deliverable varieties of the launcher are introduced,” according to the new schedule. (The forces of order ultimately did not use the gas canisters). At 12:40 p.m., a fourth ballistic shield arrived for the police. Less than a minute later, Ramos fired four shots into the classrooms.
According to the ALERRT report, having officers stationed at opposite ends of the hallway created a potential crossfire situation, which could have resulted in officers shooting at each other. Learn more about the report:
“Had the suspect exited the classrooms, officers from both teams would likely have opened fire, resulting in a high likelihood of officers at either end of the hallway firing at officers at the other end. Teams should have communicated quickly and officers at one end of the hallway should have backed off and redeployed to another position.
Members of the US Border Patrol Tactical Teams (BORTAC) moved within yards of the classrooms with two ballistic shields at 12:21 p.m. “However, no assault on the halls was carried out,” the report concludes.
Instead, for more than 10 minutes, from 12:21 p.m. to 12:34 p.m., “an ongoing conversation” took place between Uvalde School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo and an officer from the Uvalde Police Department. on the best approach.
“They also discussed who has the [classroom] keys, testing the keys, the likelihood of the door being locked, and whether children and teachers die or are dead,” the report said.
The unlocked door
Throughout the ordeal, law enforcement officials, including Arredondo, expressed concern over the opening of the door to room 111. As the new timeline shows, at 12:47 p.m. a hammer was brought to the scene so officers could breach what they believed to be a lock. gate.
The door was unlocked, the report concluded.
“The assault team entered the room at 12:50:03 a.m., 1 hour, 11 minutes, and 26 seconds after the first officers took up static positions,” the report said. “The assault team had keys that could unlock the door. It doesn’t appear that an officer ever tested the doors to see if they were locked. As previously described, we do not believe the door to room 111 was locked.
The report sheds new light on previously reported information about the unlocked door. Col. Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, previously said failing to check the door was a “dismal failure” of law enforcement.
“The door wasn’t secure, and we went back and checked our interviews, and [asked], ‘Has anyone touched the door and tried it?’” McCraw testified last month. “Do you need a key?” Well, one of the things they teach you in active shooter training: How about trying the door and seeing if it’s unlocked? »
“And, of course, no one had,” McCraw said at the time.
Wednesday’s ALERRT report concluded that lives could have been saved had it not been for the many failures of law enforcement.
“Although we do not have definitive information at this stage, it is possible that some of those who died in this event could have been saved if they had received faster medical attention,” the report said.